PORTAGE CO., Ohio (WYTV) – If you take Interstate 76 toward Akron, you might have noticed the only rest area along that strip of highway is closed.
The original rest area buildings were built in 1987. The Ohio Department of Transportation says the 30-year-old rest stop needed modernizing on both the eastbound and westbound sides.
They said modernizing the state’s rest areas is one of Governor Mike DeWine’s priorities.
ODOT is spending $10 million to upgrade both rest areas.
You can see the “rest area closed” signs about two miles out from the site.
Ray Marsch, with ODOT, said they posted signs on the doors of the rest stops about a month ago, warning they would be closed.
“We’re seeing this all across Ohio. These rest areas in Portage County, they’re old. They’re failing. It just made more financial sense to rebuild them. We’re in the process of modernizing several rest areas in Ohio that have reached their useful life.”
The new rest stops will be much larger and have enhanced parking for regular travelers and truckers. If you’ve ever driven past that area at night, you’ve probably seen the semis lined up along the entrance and exit ramps because the parking lot is full.
There will also be a new pull-through feature to make it easier for drivers to get in and back on the roads.
“These rest areas, they’re going to be twice the size that they currently are, with enhanced parking and will include an area that is focused on tourism in Ohio,” Marsch said.
The rest areas on I-76 are scheduled to be closed for the next year for the rebuild.
ODOT is also modernizing rest areas in Preble, Warren and Ashtabula counties.